Barkley sparks Elizabeth Forward girls in spot start
Elizabeth Forward rarely has used the same starting lineup in consecutive games, so it was no surprise when head coach Sam Kosanovich gave sophomore forward Olivia Barkley a spot start against Mars.
And it paid off.
Barkley scored a game-high 16 points and pulled down nine rebounds to help Elizabeth Forward (21-2) roll to a 56-31 victory over Mars (15-7) in the opening round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs at Plum High School.
“She's a hard-nosed player, and she had a great effort,” Kosanovich said. “But depending on how things go in practice the next couple days, I might make changes again because everyone knows their role, including Olivia, and I can't tell you who the starters are going to be the next game.”
That next game will be Saturday against third-seeded Central Valley, a 59-50 winner over South Fayette, at a site and time to be determined. Wherever they play, the Warriors will be without second-leading scorer Kiana Law, who picked up two technical fouls and was ejected against the Lions. Because Law was ejected, PIAA rules dictate she must sit out the team's next game.
It also will be the first meeting between the schools since Monaca and Center merged to form Central Valley in the 2010-11 school year.
“I'll just have to look for some tapes, but we're pretty well-versed on them from some scouting reports that we have,” Kosanovich said. “But I haven't really looked at them because we've been focused on the team in front of us.”
It certainly worked against Mars. The Planets had no answer for the Elizabeth Forward press, which forced 30 turnovers and helped the Warriors take a double-digit lead in the first quarter.
“I love that pressure,” Barkley said. “I love to play in-your-face, and it really keeps people on their toes.”
Barkley did that inside throughout the game. Not only did she force several turnovers in the paint, but she was able to box out and limit Mars to one shot on most trips down the floor.
She was especially effective in the second half when she scored 12 points and helped put the game out of reach.
“It was just great because I do what I can to help the team,” Barkley said. “I just want us to be able to go as far as we can.”
It was certainly a different outcome for the Warriors than their last outing. In their final regular season game Feb. 11, they were rolled by South Park, 60-35, a decision that ended their 17-game winning streak.
“I thought we came out pretty strong because we like to simulate game action in practices, which is hard to do, and we had a couple scrimmages where we could focus on game conditioning and game thoughts,” Kosanovich said. “Because of that, we came out and we played hard.”
Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @KBarnes_Trib.